Albatrellus ovinus is a mychorrhizal polypore that is found growing terrestrially under conifers and has a wide distribution throughout North America. Sometimes called the “Sheep Polypore”, it is firm and dry with a texture similar to hedgehog mushrooms. In fact, from above it looks somewhat similar to a large hedgehog, but one look at the fertile surface reveals that it is indeed poroid.
Young firm specimens are a real treat in the kitchen. When sliced thin and slowly sauteed in a light coating of oil, they fry up into crispy strips with a meaty texture. Not tough, but firm to the tooth! Their low moisture content ensures that they brown evenly. I cook them in a neutral oil and finish them with shallots and salt. They have a delicate flavor that starts out savory and finishes slightly sweet. They eat great on their own, and the sweetness would lend itself well in dishes with fall nuts. They would work very well in crisp fall salad with hazelnuts and arugula, dressed in vinaigrette made with a nut oil.
Seasonally, they show up in the summer and fall (at least here on the East Coast), and will continue to show up into the late fall if it stays mild. Indeed, I just ate a plate of them and am looking forward to finding more!